As technology continues to penetrate countless areas of the B2B purchasing cycle, distributors and manufacturers should be aware of the impact digital transformations are having on their customers. According to IDC, in 2018 businesses will spend 16.8% more on digital technologies that primarily support new operating models or the changed customer experience. Ensuring customer needs are not only met but are exceeded through digital transformation processes, is the key to retaining long-term customer loyalty.

Building relationships. We all know digital transformations are enticing and offer an abundance of solutions to everyday challenges. They can also offer businesses a means to engage with customers and build long-lasting relationships. As 61% of customers still call a business during the purchasing cycle, it is imperative for businesses to maintain a strong and supportive sales team to meet customer demands in the wake of digital transformation. When it comes to customer relationships and loyalty, success is in the balance of personal and digital.

Maintaining face-to-face interaction. It’s about improvement, not replacement. While digital solutions can ease many challenges being posed to distributors, it is not an end-all solution. Digital transformation is a support system that helps elevate and maintain customer loyalty.

Considering the needs, goals and experience of customers are important aspects that should be considered from initial planning process to post transformation analysis. Loyal customers are what drive business success, and who ultimately become brand ambassadors. Ensuring your team can easily interact with customers at key touchpoints throughout the purchasing processes will mitigate risks to customer loyalty and potential loss of valuable business.

Analyzing the experience. Consider the numbers when looking at customer loyalty. Digital solutions can enable us to take a closer look into our customers’ purchasing habits and preferences. Ignoring this valuable data can be detrimental. Leveraging structured and unstructured data  can not only deliver insights, but can identify areas of weakness or risk to the customer. Taking a closer look into data and analytics from transformation projects can support the sales team and deliver a better understanding of business operations and services.

Digital transformation can be a competitive differentiator for businesses, and those embracing these changes can gain a valuable competitive advantage when properly implemented and maintained. Ensuring companies understand how customers will be impacted by any operational change and what risks are posed to maintaining their loyalty and satisfaction are key considerations when planning for digital transformation projects.